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Counting Crows Live

2008-06-12 07:56

Watch the live video (300k)
Watch the live video (200k)
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Rumours that the venue would be seating-only were thankfully misguided. Seeing your idols rocking up close doesn’t exactly make you want to lean back in a chair and nibble on a provita. No sir, the Arena was ready for rock.

The likeable Flat Stanley did a sterling job of warming up the crowd. Frontman Andrew Mac has a serene way of transmitting zen to an audience, even a massive one like the Arena’s. Their acoustic melodies impressed most of us, but one person in particular, who awarded Andrew with the only flying thong of the night. Understandably, Flat Stanley were a little in awe of the Crows and took a few minutes to gush their praises.

At least they deserved it. Counting Crows are among the most professional, entertaining acts you’ll ever see on stage. Those present will have seen the difference between a one-hit wonder and a hard touring mega band: knowing how to play. The Crows enjoy re-arranging their songs for the live stage, and fans enjoyed some masterly interpretations of their old songs. Does sound this good happen without producers and recording studios?

Most fans will remember the band for a streak of wonderful albums in the 90s, but their new material didn't look out of place in an energetic, champagne set. "Cowboys", "Hanging Tree" and "Sundays" gave the first half of the show its most thrilling moments as singer Adam Duritz showed a little anger, a little jealousy in his repertoire for the first time.

His stumbling and expressive performing style drew criticism from the media in Joburg, where some labelled him a has-been wino. There was no drunkard in sight on Tuesday. Duritz was both mime and tenor, doing both jobs like a pro.

Counting Crows is the big band that loves South Africa. Not because they can point us out on a map, but because this was their third visit to the Cradle of Mankind. Duritz made a short, impassioned speech about what the country means as an example to others, which predictably bordered on patronising but also made quite a few people feel better about their place in the new democracy. Hell, maybe they can plug the brain drain.

There were a lot of happy faces at this concert. But they were happiest by far when a certain band made a certain promise to come again, "this year, next year and every year". We won't take it too literally, but it's still a mouthwatering prospect.

- Niel Bekker

Adam Duritz is on a plane back to the US, probably thinking: “That went well.” Counting Crows, arguably the band of the mid-90s, wrapped up their short SA tour in Cape Town with a well-received concert in a packed Grand West Arena. Not a single soul wanted their money back. In fact, if the crowd could have gotten the band to play more songs by showering them with money, we’d all have been paupers by the time we got to the third encore of “Mr. Jones”.

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